Opinion | Waguespack is the right choice for governor

Rolfe McCollister

This column reflects the opinion of the author only and does not constitute an endorsement by Business Report. Business Report does not endorse any candidate for political office.

Stephen Waguespack should be the next governor of Louisiana.

He’s the best candidate in the field for anyone who believes our state and economy can climb higher. His sensible blend of innovative policies and reform will produce growth opportunities for everyone—not just the privileged few—beginning on day one of his administration.

Tired of watching your children and grandchildren move to the greener pastures of other states? If so, then Waguespack and his vision for growth and a better tomorrow provides our best hope of reversing the rush of outmigration by improving our quality of life while also expanding and diversifying Louisiana’s economy.

This is a critical election. While other Southern states are flourishing, Louisiana continues floundering, at best, in the shoals of mediocrity. How many more opportunities can we waste before it’s irreversibly too late?

Many may remember me writing at the beginning of the year that I was done with sharing my opinions on candidates. I’m making an exception, however, because this is such a dire time in Louisiana’s history. Simply put, the stakes are too high for me to remain silent.

I have six grandchildren and I worry what Louisiana opportunities will await them when these precious gifts blossom into adulthood. This is a fork in the road moment, and I can’t sit silent. Will you?

Louisiana is the only state in the Deep South that is losing population and losing jobs. Our neighbors are growing. We have lost population for the past seven years as more young talent and families leave for opportunities. Just as troubling, the income of those departing is much greater than of those we manage to attract.

We are in a crisis. Leadership matters. What are you going to do?

Stephen Waguespack is the only candidate capable of representing all of Louisiana and turning opportunity into prosperity. He is the only candidate capable of bringing every interest of the state to the table. He belongs not to a special interest, but to the interest of everyone who calls Louisiana home.

The man known as “Wags ” has a full understanding of Louisiana’s problems and its promise. Working with Gov. Bobby Jindal he helped bring school choice to parents and students while also reimagining the archaic charity hospital system, providing modern facilities and better patient outcomes through a series of hospital partnerships.

As CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (essentially the state’s chamber of commerce) he worked with small businesses and governments to open doors and create new jobs in Louisiana, while preserving ones we already have. He has fought to keep our taxes low and streamline regulations on business and lower the cost of insurance. He knows how to work with others to get things accomplished—not just sue people to get headlines.

Make no mistake, I strongly believe Jeff Landry, the current poll leader, will put us on a wide road that leads to a dead end for our state and children.

Prior to Wags joining the race, or the field being set, I warned in February about the character and tactics of the real Jeff Landry. The bully has only gotten worse.

Landry, when making phone calls, warns, “I will be governor and I won’t forget.” He’s also tossed out such threats as “you won’t work in this state.” Several high-ranking elected officials say Landry has also made subtle threats to them. Just recently, a supporter of Landry’s called a friend of Waguespack and said, “You know Jeff is keeping a list and you might end up on it.”

Is Landry running for governor or Mafia godfather? Is this what any of us should expect from someone who not only wants a job representing every citizen of the state but also claims he can lead Louisiana to a better future?

Landry is an offer we must refuse.

Make no mistake, Landry is a throwback candidate who’s promoting a future more akin to the 1950’s, segregated by too many false values while promising happiness for a select few.

His candidacy represents a roadblock to real growth and real opportunity. Under Landry’s policies, Louisiana will effectively build a wall denying entry to new and innovative businesses, leaving only a one-way exit gate for the flood of young people and families desperate for affordable insurance, a quality education, better jobs or just plain self-determination.

Landry is smart to avoid the public scrutiny of candidate debates or journalistic inquiries. Either might show the emperor has no clothes, little empathy, no ideas, and only self-serving values.

Do your own truth quest about Landry. Here are just a few headlines from The Advocate that raise serious questions about his ethics and integrity. We don’t need another era of that sort of behavior.

Ron Faucheux, an Advocate political columnist, recently wrote, “As it appeared in March, Landry will be the next governor unless something happens to change the dynamics of the race. We wait and watch.”

I know by experience that Louisiana gubernatorial elections can be won or lost in the final few weeks. I have seen frontrunners fall from grace and I’ve seen a candidate take off from fifth to first. The one absolute: Neither happens by accident.

If we simply “wait and watch,” as Faucheux suggests, we do so at our own peril. There are just six weeks left to change the course of Louisiana’s future. As a friend, I know Wags well and am all in to support and help him statewide to win.

Your future—and that of your children and grandchildren—is in your hands.

Louisiana needs a bold leader with a visionary plan to lift all residents of this state, rather than telling those who disagree with him to move elsewhere. A leader who governs with ideas, not intimidation.

This is a crossroads moment. In the Book of Matthew, Chapter 7, it says, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Louisiana has a choice to make. You will find Stephen Waguespack leading on the narrow road. Join his journey.